Got any stray zucchinis left? We had one gigantic straggler from the garden that we’ve been trying to use up. I mean huge. The length of my forearm and hand, probably 6″ in diameter at its widest point, thick-skinned and beginning to hollow in the middle. Whoops. Left that one on the vine too long.
So, we’ve been throwing zucchini in our oatmeal, our breads, our eggs, and dinners. This is the recipe I came up with last night:
(In a Tupperware to go to lunch with the hubby, no less.)
Herbed Alfredo Pasta with Zucchini
16 oz pasta
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup zucchini, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
dash crushed red pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup parmesan
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1/8 cup fresh chopped basil
1) Boil water for pasta and cook according to package directions.
2) In the meantime, heat oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add zucchini, garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to pan. Cook 3-4 minutes.
3) Add flour to skillet, stir to coat ingredients. Quickly add the milk. Bring to a simmer & stir frequently to avoid burning. When slightly thickened & bubbly, add Parmesan cheese. Once its melted and heated through, add fresh herbs.
Turk’s turban is a beautiful winter squash that comes along at the same time as some of the more popular varieties you find in the grocery stores, such as acorn and butternut. It’s shaped like- well- a turban, and puts on such a lovely color display that I’m surprised it’s not at the forefront of more fall decorating schemes. Its flamboyant red, white, green, and grey/black stripes turn the heads of even the most avid squash-haters among us.
I was at a local farm last year to pick up decorations for my son’s birthday party when these beauties first caught my eye. I decided to pick one up for a centerpiece I was making, and I was very surprised when the owner told me that they were edible. How have I never heard of this before? After the birthday party came and went, I decided that I must discover a way to prepare my stylish eats.
A quick Bing search taught me a variety of ways to prepare Turk’s turban. Step one: cut it in half. I didn’t immediately understand which way I was supposed to do this from the instructions. So I took a guess. I tried to separate the “cap” from the wider base of the squash, and ended up sawing and hacking quite a bit in order to accomplish the task. (It was particularly tough-skinned, so I had to bring out my dangerous knife habits! Please let me know if you know of a more efficient way to do this!) Here’s what it looked like post-surgery:
My halved squash did not look like the stringy inside I expected. This post from Food Every Which Way features a photo of the turban cut in half from top to bottom, and it looks way more like typical squash innards than mine did. I’m not sure if I just cut mine the wrong way, or if it was under ripe, or if I’m still holding delusional expectations… but regardless, it cooked up perfectly, so all’s well that ends well.
Step two. Again, typical squash. Scoop out the seeds. I always have my son helping me with this step. (Which usually involves a vacuum when it’s all said and done.)
The seeds are white and plump, considerably bigger than those of a pumpkin. I made sure to wash and dry some so that I could attempt to grow my own Turk’s turban for this year.
Step three. For my recipe, I chose to place the squash face down on a baking sheet at 350 for about an hour. The small cap was done baking in that time; the wider base probably could have used 15 more minutes, but I scraped out the innards anyway.
I used a squash soup recipe (the second recipe on this post from Cricket Song Farms) as my starting point. I made just a few changes- I added more chicken stock, put in milk instead of heavy cream, and added zucchini to my vegetable mix. I chose to puree only the squash mixture but leave my vegetables whole for a chunky soup. I took the author’s suggestion to serve it up in the squash “bowls,” topped with sour cream and sage. The result?
Delicious! (Sorry the picture is a little blurry.) I really liked this, and my husband called it “pretty good!” which is a high compliment for squash from him. It was slightly nutty, not too sweet, and chock full of flavor. The sour cream added just a hint of tang. Yum, yum. My then-three year old ate it too, though the squash bowl may have contributed to his interest. I will definitely make this again when my Turk’s Turban is ripe this year.
How about you? Have you ever tried Turk’s turban? What’s your favorite recipe? Link up below so I can give it a shot too!
There’s not much more satisfying than picking something from the garden to prepare immediately for dinner. It also softens the grocery bill a good bit. However, for me, sometimes it’s out of pure laziness and lack of planning that I have to shop the garden at the last minute to get something on the table. That was last night.
We have lots of shapely Japanese eggplant ripe and ready, so it became the base of my meal. This dish morphed into a mix of vegetable lasagna and eggplant Parmesan, though it’s end consistency was more like a casserole than anything else. (Experiments- they can be risky!)
Since I made this up as I went along, feel free to alter it according to what you have on hand. The goal is to use up what you have and turn it into something scrumptious. Here’s what went into mine:
1 26-oz jar prepared spaghetti sauce
3 Japanese eggplant (or about 2 traditional), sliced in 1/4″ rounds.
2 bell peppers, any color (I alternated red and green), sliced in rounds.
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
2 heads garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt & pepper
2 large Roma or Amish Paste tomatoes, sliced thickly.
Optional- browned ground beef, or cooked shredded chicken
To prep: If you want to help take out some of the moisture from the eggplant, slice it, lay it out on a baking sheet with some salt, and roast it for 15 minutes at 400. I skipped this step and mine turned out slightly soupy but still delicious. It just depends on your preference.
1) Prepare all vegetables as directed. Combine garlic, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper in a small bowl (feel free to sub dried spices if needed). Preheat oven to 400. Lay out ingredients and get ready to layer lasagna- style.
2) Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Lay sliced eggplant in a single layer. Continue to lay consecutive layers covering the pan with the sliced peppers, sliced red onion, a sprinkling of the herb/spice mixture, about 1/4 cup mozzerella, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Start again with a layer of sauce and repeat the entire process 2 more times.
Here’s what one layer looked like for me:
3) After you have three layers of vegetable, top with sauce, sliced Roma tomatoes, and additional cheese.
4) Bake at 400 for 25-35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling, cheese is golden, and the top layer of tomatoes have slightly brown, crisp edges. Let set for 10-15 minutes before scooping.